Menard Correctional Center, Chester, Illinois
September 23, 2015

A group of prisoners relaunched their initial hunger strike of January, 2014, claiming that the administration had not done anything to address their grievances.

On the first day of the strike, about 25 people gathered outside of the prison and held a noise demonstration. The hunger strike lasted about six days.

The hunger strikers release the following information, which is compiled by the site Anti-State STL from letters from the prisoners:

Here in A.D., everything is still the same. No one is being released and we are still not getting meaningful hearings. We are still not getting any written reasons or any new info relied on for the basis of the Committee’s decision for our continued placement in A.D. We are still getting the same vague memos.

We now only get 1 day a week of out-of-cell exercise (yard). We are in our cells 24 hrs. a day, 6 days a week. We are being excessively confined in our cells. We are still not allowed to participate in any educational programs. Our mail is not being picked up or passed out 5 days a week, as they are supposed to.

We don’t see any end to this indefinite isolation/solitary confinement. Due to these issues and more, we are going to go on hunger strike once again. We will be declaring a hunger strike on September 23, 2015. We will feel very thankful for your help in spreading the word.

Our core demands are:

· We demand an end to long term solitary confinement.

· We demand minimum due process at Administrative Detention Review Hearings by providing inmates with written reasons, including new information relied upon, for Committee’s decision for our continued placement in A.D. and be allowed to grieve all adverse decisions. As it stands, the basis of the Committee’s votes are kept secret.

· We demand more access to outside recreation for the sake of our physical and mental health. As it stands, we are confined indefinitely to these cages for 6 days out of the week, with the exception of one 5-hour day. This is unbearable.

· We demand that meaningful educational programs be implemented to encourage our mental stability, rehabilitation, and social development for the sake of ourselves and our communities that we will one day return to.

· We demand access to more visiting privileges. For most of our families traveling to Menard is like traveling to another state. Considering the distance, 2-hour visits behind plexiglass is insufficient. We should be allowed 5 or 6 hours. Moreover, our family members, including inmates, should be provided the human dignity and decency to purchase food items and refreshments from vending machines after traveling such great distances. This would benefit one’s social development, as well as benefit prison staff environment.

We ask the public’s help by calling the warden, the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the Governor on September 23, 2015, and so forth, to check on our welfare.

We will stay on [hunger strike] as long as possible in order to hopefully bring some change to our conditions. We thank you for any kind of support you can give us.

Citations:

“Noise Demonstration in Solidarity with Hunger Strike at Menard Correctional in Illinois“, Anti-State STL, September 28, 2015.

“Update from Menard Hunger Strikers“, Anti-State STL, October 7, 2015.

 

Background:

“Despite Retaliation, Menard Inmate Urges Further Solidarity“, Anti-State STL, April 28, 2014.

“Retaliation Against Hunger Strikers at Menard–Windows Blocked, Strikers Beaten“, Anti-State STL, April 22, 2014.

‘Feedback from Menard Hunger Strikers on Noise Demonstration“, Anti-State STL, March 12, 2014.

Menard hunger strikers refusing water until face-to-face hearings begin“, San Francisco Bay View, February 10, 2014.

“Menard Hunger Strikers’ Response to Noise Demonstration Outside the Prison“, Uptown People’s Law Center (@UptownPeoplesLawCenter), Facebook, reposted by Anti-State STL, February 10, 2014.

Report back on Solidarity Action with the Menard Correctional Center Hunger Strike“, Maosoleum, reposted by Anti-State STL, January 31, 2014.

Menard hunger strikers endure beating, threats by nurses but vow, ‘We will not let them break us’“, San Francisco Bay View, January 27, 2014.

Update from Menard hunger strikers: We need outside support, force feeding threatened,San Francisco Bay View, January 21, 2014.

“Illinois prisoners in Menard High Security Unit plan to begin hunger strike Jan. 15“, San Francisco Bay View, January 21, 2014